By John Hickey
Monday, April 15th, 2013 at 11:51 pm in 2013 spring training.
Coco Crisp was back in the lineup for Monday’s 11-2 win over Houston, but after he went from first to third on Derek Norris’ double in the eighth inning, he was lifted in favor of Seth Smith, who generally isn’t asked to serve as a pinch-runner.
It seemed as if Crisp may have reinjured the groin that kept him out of games Saturday and Sunday against the Tigers. After the game, manager Bob Melvin said that wasn’t the case.
Instead Melvin was kicking himself for not getting Crisp out of the game earlier. After all, when Crisp walked in the eighth inning, it was the third time he’d reached base and the A’s were holding a 9-2 lead.
It was a good time to get Crisp out, although Melvin waited one extra batter.
“I should have taken Coco out of there earlier,’’ Melvin said, suggesting that he didn’t want to take a chance with Crisp’s health.
Crisp was walking around the A’s clubhouse after the game without limping, although the icepack on his left leg that has been his constant company the last few days was still very much in evidence.
–Managers are all about matchups, and matchups are all about getting the most right-handed batters against left-handed pitchers and vice-versa.
It’s not going to be that way in Oakland this year. Not at first base, anyway. Melvin isn’t afraid to have the left-handed Brandon Moss swing against left-handed pitching, and Moss is giving his manager no reason to doubt him.
Batting against the left-handed Erik Bedard in the first inning, Moss delivered a bases-loaded single. Batting in the seventh with two on against lefty Xavier Cedeno, Moss had an RBI double.
Meanwhile, Moss was 0-for-2 when facing right-handed pitchers.
“He’s come up awfully big for us against left-handers,’’ Melvin said. “He’s worked very hard on it, and he’s not trying to pull the ball too much.
“There have been some big hits. Maybe not home runs, but big hits with men on base.’’
Moss is 5-for-15 (.333) against lefties this year with five RBIs. Curiously, he’s only hitting .258 against right-handers, but both of his homers and eight of his RBIs have come against righties.
–Jed Lowrie had two more hits and drove in four runs, including four of the A’s last five runs with two-run singles in the seventh and the eighth.
Lowrie was supposed to be the floater in the infield, but he’s been the starting shortstop with Hiro Nakajima on the disabled list, and Lowrie has quickly made himself into a fixture in the Oakland lineup.
Monday was the third time he’s batted cleanup, and he’s going to see more of that, particularly against left-handed starting pitchers, as long as Yoenis Cespedes is on the disabled list.
As the cleanup hitter, Lowrie has lived up to the position, going 6-for-12 (.500) with six RBIs.
“We needed him to play shortstop when Nakajima was hurt,’’ Melvin said. “He’s been able to hit everyplace in the lineup we’ve put him, too.’’
It hasn’t hurt that Lowrie has faced his old team, the Astros, four times in the season’s first 14 games. He’s 9-for-17 with seven RBIs in those games.
–The A’s didn’t force the Astros’ Paul Clemens out of the game with the ferocity of their at-bats.
When the right-hander was in the game the A’s were tame – getting just three base runners total in 5.1 innings.
But he came out of the game in the sixth because he dislocated the pinky finger on his right (pitching) hand. In fact, he dislocated it twice, both times popping it back into place.
He said after the game it’s something he’s been dealing with since high school.